5:40PM I’m checking in a few minutes earlier than promised because, yes, I am still The Hardest Working Man in the Blogosphere™.
Here’s the CW: If Obama loses, he’s toast. If Obama wins, he’s back in the game. If Obama is as lousy as he was two weeks ago in Denver, it will be spun as the most epic turnaround since the Titanic did a 180 and returned safely to Southampton — and nearly as believable.
5:42PM I’m watching on C-SPAN, where you get to hear the announcements being made in the hall, instead of whatever the network talking heads want to yammer on about. I’ll pass those along as I catch them.
5:45PM Announcer: “The part of Barack Obama will be played tonight by his understudy, Felix Baumgartner.”
That should be an improvement.
5:49PM It’s entirely possible that the faculty of Hosftra is less interesting than the on-air talent [cough] at MSNBC.
Mind you, I didn’t say “probable.”
5:52PM The First Ladies both wore pink — fuchsia ? — and both look great.
5:53PM I can’t watch PBS or C-SPAN without hearing the late, great Phil Hartman announce, “This program was made possible by a generous grant from the CHUBB corporation.”
5:55PM There’s Candy Crowley. She doesn’t play by the rules. She’s an out-of-control journalist with a hot temper and a furious case of bad judgement. She’s…
THIS FILM HAS NOT YET BEEN RATED
5:56PM I don’t know if you caught this on PJMedia yet, but just a couple days ago I parachuted from the edge of space. True story.
5:56PM Whew. Here we go. Time to top off — as if this blog hasn’t been surreal enough already.
5:58PM There’s a guy in the audience who looks like a 19-year-old Jonah Goldberg with a fake handlebar mustache stapled onto his lip.
6:02PM “I hope to get to as many questions as possible,” except when I feel the need to redirect in complete disregard of the established rules — because I am…
6:03PM Proposal for final debate: Two leather club chairs and a bottle of single malt scotch. During the last 15 minutes, a small podium will rise from the center of the stage presenting a .44 with a single bullet.
6:04PM Thing I like best about Mitt? First GOP candidate since Reagan who doesn’t come on these things with a permanent deer in the headlights look.
6:05PM Mitt has a plan if you’re a college kid with debt and no job!
He segued right into that from a nice intro, followed by his empathy for the student’s problem, and then, Mitt has a plan if you’re a college kid with debt and no job!
6:06PM Classy. Mitt said “the middle class has been crushed the last four years,” but didn’t dig it in that Biden said that first.
6:06PM Obama… hang on… not sure my first read was right…
6:07PM WHOA! Do you want to talk to a college kid about manufacturing jobs in Detroit? Tell him about the professional work he’ll get if you’re reelected.
6:07PM My initial take might prove right, after all: He’s over programmed, to overcompensate for last week.
6:08PM Um… Mr. President? War spending has dropped considerably. Where did the money go?
6:08PM And Crowley redirects to Romney, because she’s…
Say it out loud with me.
6:10PM Finally, somebody called Obama on this “GM didn’t go bankrupt BS” he’s been peddling for months.
6:11PM Obama: Romney has a one-point plan: Give everything to the RICH, the RICH I tell you.
This is a better performance than last week — so I take back my initial reaction. It’s too soon to tell if it’s good enough.
6:11PM So, 11 minutes in, one question. Because Candy Crowley is…
6:12PM Obama is now peddling his “I increased energy production” line, in every place where he wasn’t able to squash the private sector off of private lands.
6:13PM Whoa. 13 minutes in and 86 comments already? Say a little prayer for our servers, OK?
PS, I love you all.
6:14PM You can see Mitt straining at the leash, ready to go after the green energy BS.
6:14PM Here it comes…
6:14PM “Oil production is DOWN 14% on federal lands, natural gas down 9% … ”
6:16PM Mitt’s using numbers again. Such an uncouth way to debate.
6:16PM “How we said no to that pipeline [Keystone XL] I will never know.”
6:17PM Aaaaand Candy nicely deflected from Romney’s rebuttal when turning it back over to Obama. Because she’s…
6:18PM I heard a bit of Hannity today, and he had a great minute on how Mitt could deflect the flip-flopper charge, which Obama just made on coal. Let’s see if Mitt’s ready for it.
6:18PM Mitt: “But that’s not what you’ve done in the last four years, and that’s the problem.”
6:19PM They’re really getting into it over oil permits. Obama refuses to give a straight answer.
6:20PM Mitt keeps using numbers, Obama keeps saying, “That’s not true.”
Who sounds more like he knows what he’s talking about?
So far, the worst news for Mitt is, Obama is more engaged. The good news is, Obama is verging on playing the part of Biden’s Mini Me.
6:21PM Obama: The strong economy is why gas is up to $4.
I wanted to laugh. I’m probably going to cry.
6:23PM Obama: We have enough pipeline already, you conservative Luddite.
I’m paraphrasing slightly.
But he did, sneeringly, say that “we’ve built enough pipeline to circle the earth,” as though that meant something. Circle the earth with pipe like Superman turning back time to save Lois, if that’s what it takes.
6:25PM Mitt just repeated Biden’s line about the middle class being buried the last four years. I don’t know how many people in the audience will notice, but talking heads will surely notice the shiv.
6:27PM I’m drooling at that no cap gains for middle class income investments. I think I’ve decided not to vote for Obama after all.
6:28PM Finally, we’re hearing details on Mitt’s tax plan. I like them.
Obama’s presentation is… Bush and Clinton screwed you. He’s also bragging about cutting middle class taxes — by which he means payroll taxes, by which he means he’s accelerating the bankruptcy of SS and Medicare for the very middle class he claims to be helping.
6:30PM “I fundamentally disagree with that.”
Fill out O-73 on your Bingo cards.
6:32PM “We don’t have to live like this.”
It’s a good line. Mitt tends to swallow his good lines, even at his best, which might be his biggest weakness as a speaker.
6:34PM Ah — “He only has to pay 14%.”
The class warfare has gotten so old, it feels like I do the morning after a drunkblog. The question is, does it have any magic left?
6:35PM Is Candy Damn Crowley going to let Romney have the last word on anything?
6:37PM MItt just gets rolling on correcting Obama’s version of MItt’s tax plan… and Crowley interrupted to turn it over to a questioner.
Oh, a questioner. Remember them?
6:38PM Re: My last post, How conveeeeeeeeeeenient.
6:39PM Girl audience member: Who’s gonna do the most for girls with lady parts in the workplace?
Obama: ME! SINGLE MOM ME! And I had a smart grandmother, so I understand women, dig women.
I bet this line worked like magic in college, too.
6:41PM “Whole binders full of women.” Maybe not Mitt’s best line of the night. It’s a little too reminiscent of Jame Gumb.
“It puts the lotion in the binder.”
6:44PM HAH! The gaul, the gumption, the chutzpah — of Obama claiming Romney wants to give Washington power over health care decisions. Did he not read his own “Patient” “Protection” And “Affordable” “Care” “Act”?
Oh. Wait. Stupid question.
6:45PM Free rubbers are certain to liberate your daughters, Mr. President. They’ll save a few bucks a week in a few years, hopefully after they’re married.
6:46PM Next Totally Non-Plant Question: You’re George Bush, aren’t you?
6:48PM “Our party has been focused on big business for too long.”
Finally, I think I found a reason to actually like and respect Romney. That’s so true, and so nice to hear.
6:49PM Well, first of all…” is one of Obama’s tells. It almost always precedes “this mess we inherited” and a laundry lists of complains about, well, everything.
6:50PM Mitt needs to ask, “Are you aware, Mr. President, that I haven’t been at Bain Capital for 11 years and that I’m not George Bush?”
6:57PM Oh, please. This next question sounds hard, but it comes down to, “Tell me, Barack, about what wonderful things you’ve done the last four years.” It’s an invitation for Obama to talk about Obama, which is the one thing he really is better at than anybody in the whole world.
Anyway, now Mitt is replying, and even after Denver, it still shocks me how well he does empathy. I take back all the robot jokes I made from 2008 – September 2012.
(Sorry for the delay. Server issues or some such.)
7:05 PM: We’re now in the Policy Wonk portion of the debate, and in the last half-hour to boot, so it’s safe to say a good portion of the audience has changed channels or just tuned out. It’s a good thing, too, because it’s just More of the Same from both of them, and 90 minutes of that is a little much even for professional drunks like myself.
7:06 PM “I haven’t looked at my pension, it’s not as big as yours.” What a tiny man.
7:07 PM We’re spending an awful lot of time on an issue that isn’t much of a concern these days for anyone but the residents of a few border states, whose votes are long locked in.
7:12 PM “You don’t turn national security into a political issue,” says the man who took more victory laps of Bin Laden than Bruce Jenner did in the ’76 Summer Olympics.
7: 15 PM Thank you, Mitt, for finally pulling the trigger on the Las Vegas trip.
7:16 PM “I’m always responsible,” says the man who won’t release his Vegas party list from the day after the Benghazi attack by al Qaeda.
7: 17 PM Since when does the moderator correct one of the debaters?
7:19 PM Dang. Deftly played — Benghazi should have been Mitt’s best moment of the night. Instead, it turned into a something like a fumble. People unfamiliar with the ins and outs will think the White House did a great job.
So, I have to give Mitt a big demerit on that one. And my hat’s off to Candy Crowley for turning things around for Obama with a perfectly-timed and rule-breaking interruption.
Because Candy Crowley is…
7: 22 PM Hey, Mitt — hit him with Chicago.
I mean, hit him the Chicago Way.
No, I mean with Chicago. Rahm’s Chicago.
7: 28 PM Final thoughts.
If you missed the first debate, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about watching tonight’s debate. If you watched the first one, it’s a new Obama and the same Romney.
Romney didn’t need to step up his game. Obama did — and he did. OK, he did it with a nice assist from Candy Crowley — The MODERATOR! — but mostly it was Obama getting back into form.
So did Obama blunt Romney’s surge?
My first thought is: No.
Before the Denver debate, people had been looking for permission, for lack of a better word, to vote for the new guy. Because they knew the old guy, and they’d settle for him if they had to, but they weren’t really looking forward to FORE MOAR YEERZ. And Romney stepped up gave them that permission.
Obama’s job was tougher: To win back people he lost in Denver. He might have gotten some of them back. And it’s for sure he energized the base tonight.
But when someone is looking for a reason to leave, finally finds that reason — how do you win them back?
I don’t know. And I’m not sure Obama knows, either.